Boston fern

pennysmomApril 30, 2009

I have 2 Boston Ferns that I've had for a few years. I repotted them one time to put them in non-draining pots. That was 3 years ago.

I put them outside on a shady patio last summer and brought them into the sun porch/green house for the winter. They've been kind of ratty since then. They have a grey/green color and are not sprouting new fronds. Usually a feeding of acid water will make them bright green and send out new fronds. Not so much now.

I took them out of their pots and they appear to be full of roots. Do ferns get pot-bound? Should I repot them in a bigger pot? Should I throw them out and start with new, little ones?

On the bright side of things, I had one fern under a hanging basket of Impatiens for the winder. I guess a spent flower fell into the fern and sprouted because there's a purple impatien growing in with the fern. Really a cute look!

Thanks in advance.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Ferns have very strong root systems and need to be repotted or divided on a regular basis. Cutting them in half and repotting in the same size containers would be fine, if done on an annual basis.

By 'non-draining' pots, do you mean containers that have no drainage holes? If so, that's not an ideal situation for any plant.

Also, what do you mean by 'acid water'?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 3:25PM
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Thanks for the advice. I'll be dividing them today.

I use non-draining pots for almost everything. I have absolutely no success with draining pots, they always dry out. I do much better with thorough watering every couple of weeks or so. I know it goes against all the best advice, but it works for me. I seem to have a knack for giving just the right amount of water so that the plant is thoroughly hydrated but not sitting in water.

Acid water is acid based fertilizer in water. Fertilizer meant for acid loving plants.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 7:51AM
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I'd say you should use a draining pot for everything just because you need it to flush the soil if you've got hard water, unless you want to be repotting constantly.

However, it seems that certain ferns, namely my B. Gibbum, really do not tolerate NOT being constantly wet, which sort of flies in the face of everything I know about growing houseplants. I don't know if Boston Ferns work the same way or not but it's not unfeasible. Ferns sort of work on their own logic, I guess.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 9:53PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Leaching containerized plants is important no matter what the quality of your water is. Aside from the soluble salts issue, how else can oxygen reach all parts of the root/soil system. And how else can CO2 from root cell respiration be removed (and exchanged with O2)?

Anyway. Now that we know about the containers, we can safely say that you won't need to divide your plants as often or pot them into larger sizes as frequently.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 12:46PM
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can you root prune a boston fern to stay in the same sized pot? (along with cutting off some of the edges? I've been "saving it" for a neighbor and it's wanting out of the pot!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 12:01PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

grayanddamy, it's always better (for you) if you start a brand new thread with your question, rather than piggy back to an old thread.

The Boston fern can easily be divided with a sharp knife and repotted into two or three containers. I usually divide them into thirds. And yes, you can certainly trim away at the bottom and sides, though it will grow back rapidly.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 12:44PM
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